Hitachi Rail Opening
The £82m rail manufacturing facility officially opened on 3 September 2015 in Newton Aycliffe. The new factory is close to Heighington Crossing where, almost 190 years ago to the day, George Stephenson assembled Locomotion No. 1 and began the first generation of passenger engines.
The Hitachi Rail Europe Limited plant will employ 730 workers assembling high-speed Intercity trains which are due to run on the Great Western main line from 2017 and the East Coast main line from 2018.
It has been hailed as an economic boost, with many local companies involved in the plant’s construction.
Hitachi Rail Europe Limited Chairman and CEO, Hiroaki Nakanishi, welcomed the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP and Rail Minister Claire Perry MP, along with over 500 invited guests, to the opening ceremony and for guided tours of the state-of-the-art rail vehicle manufacturing facility.
The day began with the ceremonial sealing of a time capsule by Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP and Mr Higashihara, President and COO of Hitachi Ltd.
The time capsule included a small model of Hitachi’s Class 800/801 IEP train, digital photos of trains painted by local school children, a map of Newton Aycliffe, profile of site architect Masayuki Ninomiya and a mobile phone with photos and videos.
At the opening ceremony Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “show of confidence” in the region.
“This is Hitachi’s first factory in Europe and their massive investment is a sign of their commitment to the United Kingdom and a real show of confidence in our economy and of confidence in the North East,” he said.
“I think this is a really big moment for the region. Train manufacturing has come back to the North East.”
“We wish Hitachi all the success for the future,” said, Geoff Hunton of Merchant Place Developments which owns the land where the factory has been built.
Mr Hunton, along with Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, Durham County Council and Business Durham, played a pivotal role in Hitachi decision to invest in Aycliffe.
Building of the facility took about 20 months and was led by York-based Shepherd Construction Limited, which managed the project from its Darlington office.
Mark Perkins, chief executive at Shepherd, said: “This achievement is the product of exceptional collaboration between talented local and regional suppliers. More than 30 companies, based within a 50 mile radius of site, shared 95 per cent of the total project spend and seeing this boost to the regional economy has been a particularly satisfying element of this project.”
Photographs courtesy of www.philiphunton.co.uk